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The Contract From America—Agenda Item 1

The Tea Party movement is a fascinating groundswell of activism among Americans who are concerned about the direction of their government.

Because it’s a bottom-up movement, it’s got official Washington having fits. Nobody knows exactly what Tea Partiers want or how they will act in the next election. But Tea Partiers want something, and they’re very likely to express their views at the ballot box in November.

The Contract From America is one set of policies that roughly bind together many Tea Partiers and Tea Party groups. It’s a follow-on of sorts to the Contract With America that swept Republicans into office in the 1994 election.

contact_from_americaSo we’re going to look at the terms of the Contract From America in a series of posts. And we’ll look at some of the bills that exist to do what Contract Tea Partiers want.

Below is item 1 in the Contract (with the level of support it received in a voting process), followed by some discussion of the proposal.

1. Protect the Constitution

Require each bill to identify the specific provision of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to do what the bill does. (82.03%)

Interestingly, the House already requires a “constitutional authority statement” in committee reports—the explanatory documents that House committees issue when they advance a bill. It was a reform established after Republicans took over the House in 1994.

The Supreme Court interprets the Commerce Clause very broadly, though, allowing Congress to do many things that would have driven the framers of the constitution around the bend.

Item 1 in the Contract is probably really about hoping the Supreme Court will reassert the constitution’s limits on federal authority. And perhaps it will…

In 1995, the Supreme Court held in a case called United States v. Lopez that Congress couldn’t criminalize gun possession near a school under the constitution’s commerce power. Gun possession isn’t commerce—get it? The Lopez case had been argued before the Court on election day 1994, the day that Republicans won the House using the Contract With America.

There are bills in both the House and Senate to require Congress to specify its authority under the constitution for the enactment of laws. In the Senate, the bill is S. 1319, the Enumerated Powers Act, introduced by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK).

In his statement about the bill, Senator Coburn admitted that passage of it wouldn’t fix everything in one fell swoop.

So this bill says you can still cheat on the constitution, but now you’ve just got to explain to the American people why you’re doing it. . . . And that is one of the ways we get our country back, because the American people become informed. I guarantee you many will become outraged when they hear some of the statements on why we think we have the authority to do some of the things we do.

This reform—item 1 in the Contract From America—is a modest reform, but an important one.

The House bill is H.R. 450. It was introduced by John Shadegg (R-AZ).

Here are the votes on the two bills, first the Senate bill and second the House bill. Click to vote, comment, learn more, or edit the wiki articles about the bills.

Visitor Comments for The Contract From America—Agenda Item 1 RSS 2.0

WashingtonWatch.com Digest – April 19, 2010 – The WashingtonWatch.com Blog

[...] The Contract From America—Agenda Item 1 [...]

judy

these people are very scary folks and question is who is really backing them and why?

The Contract From America—Agenda Item 2 – The WashingtonWatch.com Blog

[...] The Contract From America—Agenda Item 1 [...]

Jerry

Bill does not go far enough. Need jail time for the constitutional oath breakers.

Carol

I had to reply to the only commnet made by Judy. What is scary is people like you! Who is backing them? It is the everyday man and women that want their country back from the threshold of the Progressives that are holding it hostage. They are destroying our nation. These people are conservatives that want our elected representative to represent them and to follow the Constitution like they swore to do. If you don’t want that Then I fear you are on the wrong site!!!

The Contract From America—Agenda Item 3 – The WashingtonWatch.com Blog

[...] The Contract From America—Agenda Item 1 [...]

The Contract From America—Agenda Item 4 – The WashingtonWatch.com Blog

[...] fourth in a series of posts on the Contract From America’s ten-point agenda. Read the first one here, the second here, and the third [...]

The Contract From America—Agenda Item 5 – The WashingtonWatch.com Blog

[...] in a series of posts on the Contract From America’s ten-point agenda. Read previous posts here: 1, 2, 3, [...]

WashingtonWatch.com Digest – May 3, 2010 – The WashingtonWatch.com Blog

[...] government, and economic freedom. Read about the first five items in the contract at these links: 1, 2, 3, 4, [...]

The Contract From America—Agenda Item 6 – The WashingtonWatch.com Blog

[...] in a series of posts on the Contract From America’s ten-point agenda. Read previous posts here: 1, 2, 3, 4, [...]

The Contract From America—Agenda Item 7 – The WashingtonWatch.com Blog

[...] a series of posts on the Contract From America’s ten-point agenda. Read previous posts here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, [...]

The Contract From America—Agenda Item 8 – The WashingtonWatch.com Blog

[...] in a series of posts on the Contract From America’s ten-point agenda. Read previous posts here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, [...]

The Contract From America—Agenda Item 9 – The WashingtonWatch.com Blog

[...] in a series of posts on the Contract From America’s ten-point agenda. Read previous posts here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, [...]

The Contract From America—Agenda Item 10 – The WashingtonWatch.com Blog

[...] in a series of posts on the Contract From America’s ten-point agenda. Read previous posts here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, [...]

Contract FROM America Wrap-Up – The WashingtonWatch.com Blog

[...] House already requires this in its committee reports, but the Supreme Court interprets the constitution’s Commerce Clause [...]

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